High quality digital images of fine art?
July 17, 2005 8:48 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone know some web sites with high-quality digital images of art masterpieces? Preferrably wallpaper-sized, and preferrably a variety of artists and periods.
posted by jojopizza to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Mark Harden's Artchive has a large directory of artists, with links to reproductions of their work situated for free on the web. Of various sizes, but a lot of them are large and high resolution. If I remember correctly the Hermitage has very large reproductions of it's collection online.
posted by fire&wings at 9:10 AM on July 17, 2005

Actually, if you read the "Image Use" page on Artchive, they aren't quite available for free use. He says that you can only use them for non-profit educational use, and even then I think his interpretation of the fair-use provision of the Copyright Act is a bit more liberal than most of the recent interpretations by the courts of late. (For the record, I happen to agree with Harden's interpretation.)

So getting back to the original question - whether or not you can find what you're looking for will depend on exactly what you need it for (educational, personal use, or commercial?), whether or not the artist is still alive, and several other factors. Since there is obviously a lot of money to be made in selling reproductions of masterpieces, I would suspect that finding high quality, truly royalty-free images of them will be difficult to say the least.

I'd suggest that you try a simple, straight-forward approach - images.google.com. Search for the masterpiece you want, and see what comes up. Google lists the pixel dimensions and file size of each image, so you can get an idea of the quality. Click on the image to go to the site on which it lives, and see if you can find some sort of usage notice on the page to see if you can reuse the image. Or, contact the webmaster of the site and ask.
posted by robhuddles at 9:28 AM on July 17, 2005

Response by poster: Strictly personal use, dead artists. (French impressionists, Renaissance, whatever.) I just want to look at a large selection of artworks, pick some favorites, and become more familiar with them by having them on my computer.

Artchive looks good. Any others? :)
posted by jojopizza at 9:32 AM on July 17, 2005

Olga's gallery is great. Size isn't always the best (which is why I didn't mention it earlier) but it is a great site for getting to know artists and movements and where they fit in the scheme of things.
posted by fire&wings at 9:57 AM on July 17, 2005

Also this site is amazingly comprehenive. They have over 21,000 artworks illustrated online. Sorry for the posting, I'm just browsing through my favourites here.
posted by fire&wings at 9:59 AM on July 17, 2005

The Art Renewal Center has a large collection of high-res images online.
posted by hootch at 2:37 PM on July 17, 2005

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